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Indian-Spiced Black-Dal-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This lunch is super filling. Black lentils are so beautiful—they remind me of caviar, little jewels on top of the bright-orange sweet potato flesh. Both sweet potatoes and lentils have fiber that will keep you full through the afternoon, and the lentils, inspired by traditional Indian dal, are flavored with a plethora of spices that are rich with flavor. Turmeric is helpful for quelling inflammation, and you get maximum benefits when you eat it with fat (such as the coconut milk in this recipe) and black pepper (which can make it more bioavailable). You’ll also let the minced garlic sit for twenty minutes to activate its healing enzymes and add it at the very end so that it’s cooked long enough for its potent bite is dulled but for the health benefits to remain entirely intact.

Makes 1 to 4

1 onion, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 cup dried black lentils (Optional: Cover completely with water and a bit of sea salt and let soak overnight; drain and rinse well before following the recipe, using ¼ cup less stock. This helps make the lentils more digestible.)

1½ cups vegetable stock

1½ cups or 1 13½-ounce can coconut milk

3 cloves garlic

1 to 4 sweet potatoes (depending on how many servings you’re making—see note)

fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Wash the sweet potato and place it directly in the oven, with a piece of parchment or foil below to catch any drips. Cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until it gives easily when squeezed. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. Meanwhile, peel and mince your garlic and set aside so the compounds have time to activate.

4. In a medium pot, cook the onion until translucent. Add the spices and cook for 3 more minutes or until fragrant. Add the lentils, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft and have absorbed most of the liquid. Turn off the heat, add the garlic immediately, and stir (this cooks the garlic enough to mitigate the intensity of the flavor while preserving its health benefits).

5. Spoon over the sweet potatoes and top with a few generous spoonfuls of dal. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Note: This dal recipe makes enough for 4 ¾-cup servings. Each serving should top 1 sweet potato; you can either make 4 sweet potatoes and eat throughout the week or simply eat the dal as leftovers. It also freezes well.

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